New drug could cure nearly any viral infection

This sounds... unlikely.

Now, in a development that could transform how viral infections are treated, a team of researchers at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory has designed a drug that can identify cells that have been infected by any type of virus, then kill those cells to terminate the infection.

In a paper published July 27 in the journal PLoS One, the researchers tested their drug against 15 viruses, and found it was effective against all of them — including rhinoviruses that cause the common cold, H1N1 influenza, a stomach virus, a polio virus, dengue fever and several other types of hemorrhagic fever.

The drug works by targeting a type of RNA produced only in cells that have been infected by viruses. “In theory, it should work against all viruses,” says Todd Rider, a senior staff scientist in Lincoln Laboratory’s Chemical, Biological, and Nanoscale Technologies Group who invented the new technology.

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17 Responses:

  1. pavel_lishin says:

    "Grandkids, I remember the Zombie plague. Started around August, 2010 or so - somethin' about curin' ALL viruses. Oh, but we reached too far, with our fancy science!"

  2. Cartapacia says:

    Great!! Now, what will be of the giants money earnings that virus bring also alive?

  3. Tyler says:

    It even has a menacing name.

  4. June Brown says:

    I wonder if this could help with HIV... And, if so, I wonder if their lab is going to suffer some tragic accident before they're done. HIV is a big money maker for the pharmaceutical companies.

    • Nick Lamb says:

      The biggest money has consistently been making stuff that simply doesn't work and dodging the regulations that were supposed to protect consumers. It was good money for the Carbolic Smoke Ball Company up until their unfortunate run in with a series of unsympathetic judges and it's great money today for the homeopaths.

      By contrast making drugs that work, whether they're a cure or merely provide symptomatic relief, is far less profitable. On the upside it's possible to do it while having a conscience and still sleep at night.

  5. Otto says:

    Kalocin, anybody? (try and guess the reference before Googling it)

    • cthulhu says:

      The Andromeda Strain, the book. Don't remember if the movie had it or not - probably not.

  6. Glen Raphael says:

    A claim found on the Internets: "The one major issue I can see with the new approach is that it seems like has the potential to destroy neural ganglia in the case of herpesvirus infection, which includes basically everyone who's ever had chicken pox"

  7. JP says:

    One arguably deleterious side-effect would be that evolution in the human species would be stunted, perhaps severely, since insertion of viral material into the genome is one of the mutation mechanisms. Of course, a massive over-provisioning of nuclear bombs is also an effective means of curtailing our inexorable march toward godhood, so the concern is probably moot.

  8. Regina says:

    Just been reading some information on the DRACO drug and WOW this could prove to be a real shake up!

    Good source:

  9. Ben Brockert says:

    I asked a biology grad student friend and she said that if you extrapolate the number from the paper, the dosage necessary for it to work in a human would be much higher than what you could safely give a human.

    Plos One isn't complete quackery, but it's not the most reputable.